Wayne County photographer Barbara Bozeman of Dudley has been installed as state president of Business and Professional Women/NC.

The organization is also known as the N.C. Federation of North Carolina Business and Professional Women Clubs.

Bozeman, who was installed June 24 at the state convention, assumes the office that had been held by Elva Graham of Green Thumb Florist in Goldsboro.

"I am very proud that for two years now our state president is from this area," Bozeman said. "She actually lives in Faison, but her business is here."

The organization will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019 when the state convention will be held in Goldsboro.

"I am proud to be part of the 100-year legacy," said Bozeman, a member of the Rocky Mount and Nashville BPW clubs. "I think it is important in this position to really be seen -- really not so much to be seen as to be available. To me that is what I signed on for --to be available and to be the advocate for BPW.

"If I am doing my job right, by the end of this year we are going to have people going, 'Oh, here comes Barbara talking about that BPW stuff. She's going to be talking about helping women, talking about women joining forces.'"

There are 12 BPW chapters statewide, but no local clubs.

At present BPW has 300 members statewide, but Bozeman sees those numbers and the organization's viability climbing based on it changing with the times.

BPW is a bipartisan and non-sectarian organization and accepts men into its membership. The Fayetteville chapter president is a man, she said.

Bozeman said she hopes the number of clubs will expand including one in Goldsboro.

"This is just really exciting," she said. "My vision with this is by the time I have finished being president that we will have another viable chapter here in Goldsboro, and I am going to work with the Small Business Center to see what we can do about it.

"I think what will happen this year is, I will try to have people meet on kind of an advisory level and almost make it like a mock club, just to give them the legs and see if this is what they want to do. Then maybe next year officially go forward as a club. If anybody is interested in anything BPW they need to track me down."

BPW is a viable organization whose concepts will never go away. It is just a matter of how they are being presented, she said.

"The bottom line is, what we are offering is what people want," she said. "We have to figure out the best way to present that in order to stay viable."

It is not about competing with other groups for membership -- is about how do they support each other, Bozeman said.

"My role with the BPW this year as president is largely encouragement and to expand the awareness of our program and to help bring in new members and to pretty much be a cheerleader for every one of our 12 local clubs," Bozeman said.

"I firmly believe our state organization needs to be of service to our local clubs. We have an exciting new legislative program. The key point of BPW is working women helping women work."

There are three areas of focus on development -- personally, professionally and politically -- things Bozeman said she wants to ensure BPW is providing.

"What we want to ensure is not that you are following a certain candidate, but that you have an awareness where all of the candidates fall when it comes to women's issues," she said. "One of our biggest pushes (is) we want to see the Equal Rights Amendment passed -- not because it is a woman's issue, which most people think.

"It is a human rights issue. That is one of the key parts of our legislative area. However, we're intent on making sure that people understand what the political process is about."

What is important about BPW is that it is not just for the corporate person or office worker, she said.

"The one key area that I think we could provide some value to is our farm business owners because it is the Business and Professional Women Club," Bozeman said.

Especially being a rural community and because of the agricultural legacy, those are the people she would like to see join BPW.

Bozeman, 53, is a native of Upstate New York, and grew up in Rhode Island.

She joined the Air Force in 1989 and was stationed with the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base from 2000 to 2005.

She retired in 2009 as a master sergeant.

At that time, she was enrolled in the online program at the University of Mount Olive.

Thanks to the post-9/11 GI Bill, she was able to earn bachelor's degrees in human resources and business management.

"Thanks to Larry Lean and the art department and being part of the photography program, when I graduated I started my photography business -- Sights and Hounds Photography," she said.

The Hounds refers to the work she does photographing canine action and event photography such as hunt contests and field trials.

She also does event and corporate head shots.

Bozeman joined BPW in 2011 when three people at the university got her involved.

She has served as the magazine editor for the state BPW and has received its Women Joining Forces Grant twice that helped her start her photography business.

The BPW/NC Women Joining Forces Grant is for active duty and veteran military service women or the spouse of a service member. The recipient must be a North Carolina resident or assigned to a military installation in the state and working at or operating business in the state.

The $500 grant is for training, startup capital or business-related expenses.

"All of these things have led to so many great experiences because I started my photography business and that led to being part of the Chamber," Bozeman said. "Being part of the Chamber led to expanding my business into some different areas."

Also, BPW expanded her opportunities not only as a business owner but as part of the BPW, she said.

Bozeman has been busy with back-to-back events since being named president. She also did quite a bit of traveling last year as vice president.

"I will continue to do that," she said. "I think it is important to get out there. With technology, we have easy ways of communicating with people, but I want to get out and go to the local clubs.